Search Our Site

Article Index

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys


I made a bad mistake in the last BB saying that I had some articles in hand.  Not one has come in since!  Please can I have some!

There's nothing much to report on the digging front, just lots of hard work with little to show for it. J'Rat has reopened the corner dig in Puck Suds and has found a mud filled tube going in the opposite direction to Skid Row.  Graham tells me that Spade Runner in Daren is being awkward and they are thinking of revisiting Twelve O’clock High which was banged just before the Micron was discovered but has not been looked at since.  Graham and Richard (Blake) have finished the survey of Welsh's Green so a report should soon appear.

Now to bridge jumping. I tried this for the first time the other Sunday!  The theory of bridge jumping is as follows.  If you tie a rope, securely, to one parapet of a bridge, pass it under the arch of the bridge and up to the opposite parapet, then anything tied onto the rope and dropped from the second parapet will swing under the bridge like a pendulum provided that the distance from parapet to parapet under the arch is shorter than the distance from the parapet to the ground (otherwise the dropped item hits the ground very hard and very fast, as proved by Newton!).

My first jump was at Windsor Hill viaduct on Mendip.  The distance from parapet to the ground looks to be 60 to 70 feet and from parapet to parapet under the arch about 50 feet so it’s quite safe to jump!  However, jumping into 70 feet of nothing is a bit daunting and although one rope would probably be quite sufficient to take the strain three were actually used  (We can't afford ten - Snablet).  The next nerve-racking thing is waiting for the ropes to be properly tensioned while standing on a tiny ledge hanging onto the parapet for dear life.  Of course, you know its perfectly safe as you've seen others doing it before you but actually pushing off when told that the ropes are ready is something else!  Hesitation makes things far worse as you start questioning your own sanity and wouldn't it be better to go home and have a nice cup of tea!

The most courageous jumper was J'Rat who hesitated for several minutes but still jumped.

When you've actually jumped your life doesn't flash before your eyes, after all, if it wasn't for the ropes you'd hit the ground at about 45 mph in about 2 seconds.  I can't remember the free-fall stage (about 15 feet) at all, the first memory being of the tug of the ropes under the bridge. Then it starts to get really exhilarating as you zoom up the other side, almost to the height at which you started, and then proceed to pendulum on a 50 foot arc.  My verdict was that it was tremendous fun but probably not for the faint-hearted!  We offered jumps to passing Sunday-afternoon walkers and although some showed lots of interest and stayed awhile to watch, there were no takers!  Zot wouldn't jump in spite of the fact that everyone who did was saying how great it was.  Jingles jumped twice (he's now an addict) and the rest of the first-time jumpers would have liked to as well except that the Hunter's was, about to open!

A word of caution! Bridge jumping is completely banned in many countries and at many sites in this one.  The reason is obvious!  In caving you can go without all the proper gear or use equipment incorrectly and nine times out of ten you would get away with it (for the tenth occasions - see the M.R.O. incident reports).  In bridge jumping these odds are reversed (and the reports would be obituaries!). It is essential to have all the proper equipment (which is expensive!) and to use it correctly.  Also the jump must be tested with, say, a tackle bag full of rocks, with observers posted, to ensure that neither the ropes or the bag come anywhere near any obstacle along their flight paths!

Back to club matters. Alfie has presented me with a large box-full of old B.B.'s in response to Trebor's plea.  Thanks Alfie!  With my collection as backup we should be able to produce all the missing ones from about number 80 onwards.

Chris Falshaw has sent us a generous donation and, in his words, would be very pleased if it could be applied to help any "Sump Passing Efforts" in Cuthbert’s during 1990.  Thanks Chris, we'll see what we can do!  The Aswan Dam, below the ten foot drop in two, is complete (with steps on both sides so that one just walks over it) and I believe fire hoses are being organised to go from the surface to sump 2.

Clare Coase, Damien and Nan duly arrived on Mendip (Damien and Nan were on their honeymoon - so they travelled 12,000 miles and then went down a hole in the ground, they must be prospective BEC members!) and a large party visited Cerberus Hall. Unfortunately I could not accompany them as I was down to take another party to Straw Chamber, Pearl Passage and Canyon Series on the same day.  I will put in the account of their trip and other extracts from the caving logs in the next BB.

As a very early warning, it looks as though the B.E.C. dinner this year will be at the "WEBBINGTON COUNTRY CLUB" and will be on Saturday 6th October.  This will be a bit plusher than recent venues and the cost of tickets will be a bit dearer.  However, our club dinner sub-committee, Mr. N and Wormhole, are recommending it.  (Most other possible venues were already booked anyway!)